Jean Seberg. Serge Gainsbourg. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Betty Blue. Cézanne. Toulouse-Lautrec.Sartre. À bout de souffle. Françoise Hardy. Piaf . Zut alors! Well that’s just a few French revolutionaries for starters but the full list of maverick artistic pioneers française are rarely given the credit they deserve. But what have the French done for me lately I hear you yelp? Well, whilst the UK is in rapture to saccharine crap like Leona Lewis and sexless indie like Arctic Monkeys, the French have been well, not quietly, but steadfastly carrying on with blowing its youths’ minds yet again and looking cool as f*ck whilst doing it.
A new compilation, Edges, bags 16 tracks from France’s nouvelle vague of electronic producers, DJs and musicians and – odd howler aside – it kicks la grande derriere. Highlights for this Francophile include Mondkopf’s Chaos Is Mine (wonderful debut album subsequently aquired and devoured), Chateau Marmont’s Solar Apex (further proof they are serious contenders), Gentleman Drivers Nationale 66 (tres Kraftwerk) and Danger’s gloriously OTT 88:88. So intrigued was I that I boarded the Matmobile, destination – the four corners (or ‘Edges’ if you will) of France to check out what they’re calling une nouvelle génération électronique française…
EDGE UN: STEREOHEROES
For our readers new to StereoHeroes – How is a typical StereoHeroes track created and what are the vital ingredients?
There is no secret recipe. We usually turn on the computer, open a blank project on Ableton Live, find a beat and then start tweaking a synth and find some cool melodies until we are satisfied. We never think or imagine a track before we actually start doing it.
When it comes to working with MC as with Spoek and Cerebral Vortex for example, we start with an acapella of their voices and compose around, it’s the way we like to do it.
The vital ingredients .. we love to think every track we made is really different from the others, but we could say :
– A fast jumping rhythm
– Cool voices chops
– Funny samples
– Everything to make people dance
The others parts vary a lot depending on our mood.
Do you remember the exact moment when you realised your heart and soul belonged to music?
It’s difficult to pick up an exact moment in time. After being part of every musical current as every teenagers, we discovered electronic music in the early 90’s, mostly with house, techno and hardcore. From there we knew we would be forever a part of this movement. But if it always been a passion, we never thought until recently that we could actually live from it one day. It’s a dream come true. But since we were kids, crawling into music shops to buy as many CDs as we could, music always been the most important artistic part of our lives.
You’ve just been on tour across Asia – What were those gigs like? Any crazy tour tales you’d care to share with our readers?
Yes ! We get back home just a few days ago after some gigs in Hong Kong, Korea and Thailand. It was fantastic, we enjoyed every minute. Asian audience is really virgin of the style of sound we do, but they are really thirsty of discovering those new beats. So even if they are quite hard to move at first, they quickly become crazy on the dancefloor and it’s such a great pleasure to play for them. Tales? We can’t see anything we could actually share with the readers, we’ll keep the crazy secret…
What four tunes are Stereoheroes currently in love with?
Let’s pick four tunes from our last set in Bangkok. There is no exclusive or secret song, but it’s our actual weapons.
Leon Jean Marie – Bring it on (Rusko remix). We really dig the dubstep energy at the moment. This music drives us crazy. Even if as dancers, we don’t really know how to move on it so we usually play one to a maximum of two dubstep tracks per set. Just to introduce people around the world to it.
Redman – I Hold The Crown (Gigi Barocco remix). We could have picked almost every track from Barocco or even Congorock. There is a label called “Italians Do It Better”. It’s actually a truth. So many good tracks are coming from Italy right now made by the producers who came right after The Bloody Beetroots or Crookers.
Dada Life – Happy Hands & Happy Feet (Phatzoo Remix). Play this track, anywhere in the world, people will jump around and scream. There is no exact explanation, but it works every time.
Project Cyborg – Hit Hit. Our little pleasure from Belgium. This track will make you smile and be happy. It’s so simple and so efficient.
EDGE DEUX: MONDKOPF
As well as providing Chaos Is Mine for the Edges compilation, you’ve recently released your own album Galaxy of Nowhere. Can you tell us about the making of the record and if there are any central themes?
Some of the songs are something like one year-old. Being quite productive I had a small hardrive full of songs and we sat down chosing the best songs and how they could work together. Then I improved the sound design in order to create a specific sound for the album and did some field recording for the skits. It is difficult to me to set out the thematics of the album myself.
Our readers are in Paris for the weekend – where should they go and where should they avoid?
Go to the movies at the MK2 Quai De Seine then have a beer at Point FMR just on the other side of Boulevard de la Villette and wait for the indie show of the night. Have a Yaniku-Don at the Japanese restaurant Higuma (rue Saint-Anne). Definitely avoid the Champs-Elysées area.
I noticed you’re influenced by some real cinematic mavericks (Terence Malick, David Cronenberg, Michael Mann) and your music is clearly widescreen sized – If you could create a new soundtrack to one film in history what film would it be and why?
Very hard question. I wouldn’t dare creating a new soundtrack to one of my favorite movies because the music is such a great part of them.
What are your currently favourite four tunes at the moment and why?
Clark – Talis (from Totem Flares). Clearly influenced by Joy Division with a fucking brillant and contemporary production.
Cranes – Beautiful Cranes (from Loved). I have no clue what she is singing about but to me it sounds like a little girl singing about death.
Cocteau Twins – Cherry-Colored Funk (Seefeel remix). Beautiful 90’s ambient with the blissfull voice of Liz Fraser.
Sunn o))) – Alice (from Monoliths & Dimensions ). Bwwwwwwwwwwwwwrrrrrrrrwwwwww-trumpet. A tribute to Alice Coltrane.
EDGE TROIS: NIL HARTMAN
The compilation Edges looks at sixteen of the hottest names in the French music scene – do you think there are any particular characteristics or traits unique to this generation of French artists?
We’re French, we’re young and make electronic music. I think that’s it.
Do you have any tips, tricks or warnings for new musicians just starting out? What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt as a musician?
I don’t have proper tips, I just try to make the more personnal music I can. The most important thing I’ve learnt is that this very personnal music has to be accessible too.
Who or what experiences inspired you to follow a career in music, and more particularly electronic music?
I started electronic music by accident years ago, and the more I got into it the less I felt like doing anything else for a living. So I’ve seen working on my tracks much more seriously since then. I also made more and more gigs, which help me being a bit more confident about my choice.
What have been the most popular tunes Chez Hartman recently?
Few Nolder – Top. The best loop I’ve heard this year so far, clever beautiful techno!
Mr Fingers – Can You Feel It (Instrumental). Classic tune, raw and highly emotional early house music. I’m obsessed with the whole Amnesia album.
G Side – Run Thingz. Amazing hip-hop song with a Sci-fi instrumental, cleverly produced and composed. Killer chorus, I love the way the MCs rap.
Nil Hartman – Sans Titre 6. Well it’s actually a loop at the moment, not a proper finished tune, but it’s the one I’m currently working on.
EDGE QUATRE: CHATEAU MARMONT
You recently released the Solar Apex EP, the title track of which appears on the Edges compilation – Is there a Chateau Marmont album in the works and what can we expect?
We plan to release a second EP actually, around October. But yes, our minds are now focused on our full-length, scheduled for early 2010… What can you expect ? A concept album. Beats and chords too.
The founder of Columbia Pictures famously remarked of your notorious namesake “If you must get into trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont”. What’s the most trouble you guys have ever been in and are you expecting free accommodation for life at the real Chateau Marmont?
We’re into excess. It’s easy to get into trouble. The day we’ll sleep at the Chateau Marmont, we’ll never leave it. Send Delta Force. We have some Molotovs with Absinthe…and shurikens. We’re all gonna die there. We want to be part of this legend.
Hell yeah, let’s go now!! But first, you’ve done some fantastic acclaimed mixes for Peter, Bjorn & John, La Roux, Ladyhawke, Heartsrevolution and Royksopp – I know you’re focussing on your own material now but what dream artist could lure you back and which remix were you most pleased with?
Maybe big mainstream pop artists like Britney, Kylie or Justin. Heavy stuffs. Our favourite remix is maybe the Ladyhawke one (My Delirium), because of the production and the teenage 80’s vibe.
What’s rockin’ the walls of the Chateau Mamont at the mo?
Ad Me by Joakim, the most original sound made in France these days, Charter Oak Foundation on the new Tortoise album, Tahiti 80’s Unpredictable remixed by Flairs and Holiday by Dizzee Rascal.
So, armed with a well worn copy of La Nausée, a crate full of cheap wine and the sound of Gainsbourg’s cheeky 69 Année Erotique still ringing in my ears I begin my journey home. Bonne nuit et de beaux rêves…
Edges is out now on Because Music. C’est Magnifique!